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Hutton's First Shutout Leads Preds Past Penguins

by Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

Goaltender Carter Hutton’s first shutout of the season led the Nashville Predators to a 4-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center on Sunday afternoon.

“It’s a big win,” Hutton said. “It’s a tough building to play in, and I thought we had a great game tonight. It was a huge all-around [performance].”

It didn’t take long for the Preds to get on the board, as Roman Josi’s shot found a way through traffic and past Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury at the 4:05 mark of the first for a 1-0 lead. Minutes later, Gabriel Bourque took advantage of a Simon Despres turnover and hammered the puck past Fleury to give Nashville a 2-0 advantage after one period.

Hutton turned aside 11 pucks in the middle stanza, including a number of stops on three second period, power-play opportunities for Pittsburgh. Before the horn to end the period sounded, Eric Nystrom capitalized on another Penguins turnover, dekeing out Fleury for his sixth goal of the season to give Nashville a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes.

“I was pumped,” Nystrom said of his goal. “It’s been a while since I scored and coming back from an injury, it's been an uphill climb. To get that, it was a nice reward. Tonight, Bourque also scored and it’s good for our depth guys to score as well. That’s a huge difference maker in the game.”

Mike Fisher added some insurance for the Preds on a power play midway through the third, taking a Filip Forsberg pass in the slot and rifling a shot past Fleury for a 4-0 lead. The assist was Forsberg’s 44th point of the season, putting him first on the club in points once again.

“I thought we had a good attitude out there tonight,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “The forecheck was good, the neutral zone forecheck was good. There’s a lot of talent on the other side, and I think you have to pay attention to defense when you play a team like Pittsburgh.”

Nothin’ by Hutton:

Early goal support by the Predators helped Hutton settle into Sunday’s matinee game before notching 21 saves en route to his first blank sheet of the season. The victory over one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams was also Hutton’s first road win of the campaign.

“He was great,” Josi said of his goaltender. “Especially in the second when we had a lot of penalties, he made some saves and kept it at 2-0. They could’ve easily scored one if he wasn’t that good there.”

The 29-year-old made 11 saves in the middle frame, including a breakaway denial of former teammate Nick Spaling. Shortly after the big save on the Pens’ forward, the Predators added their second goal of the evening from a bottom-six winger.

Nystrom effectively iced the contest with a fancy move in front of the Pens’ net for a goal in the final minute of the middle frame.

“He played awesome,” Nystrom said of Hutton. “He’s such a good team guy and for him to get that shutout here in this building, that’s awesome. He played so well and made all the saves he needed to give us a chance to win.”

“He looked really good, I thought our guys were strong in front of him, but he had to make some saves,” said Laviolette of the goaltender’s performance. “He was sharp, it was good for him to get the win.”

Finish Strong:

After recording just one out of a possible four points through the first two games of their current road trip, the Predators’ win against Pittsburgh was perhaps even more satisfying than normal.

“It’s huge,” Nystrom said of the victory. “The last game was a tough one playing back-to-back in Colorado [and St. Louis], but a rebound to win like this in Pittsburgh is a huge way to finish this road trip.”

The Predators ended a five-game winless streak against the Penguins, and a 4-0 win put an exclamation point on the excursion.

“It’s great,” Hutton said. “This has been one of our tougher road trips of the year, we go to St. Louis and tough time in Colorado… We travel in here and play an early game, and I thought the boys played great tonight and had a great all around team effort.”

“Especially against a team like Pittsburgh, it’s a tough building to come in and to win games,” Josi said. “We didn’t like our game in Colorado and we needed to bounce back and I think we did.”

Nashville will now play three-straight games at home and 10 of 15 February contests within the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena.

End Game:

The Predators 4-0 triumph over the Penguins on Sunday was something of a revenge performance for the team from Music City. Pittsburgh shut out Nashville on Oct. 25 to hand the Preds their first regulation loss of the season, after the Predators began the campaign with a 5-0-2 record. A shutout for a shutout, the Preds and Pens season series ended with the road teams each posting a doughnut.

Following a 3-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday, the Predators were in danger of suffering two-consecutive regulation losses for the first time in 2014-15, but Forsberg’s two points and Hutton’s shutout made sure the Preds again rebounded after a defeat.

With a three-game road trip over, Nashville will now play seven of their next eight game at Bridgestone Arena.

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